August 1, 2008
Platt’s One Night Stand Hollywood Mogul Backs Love of Theatre
By Gary Flockhart
MINUTES into the interview with leading Hollywood producer Mark Platt, the man who guided Dances With Wolves, Silence Of The Lambs, Philadelphia and Sleepless In Seattle to Oscar-winning glory gives away a little secret.
Reluctantly at first, Platt confirms that the Scots actor can expect another bumper cheque when filming gets underway.
"Er, yes, it looks the way," he laughs. "You know, he's a very fine actor, I really enjoyed working with James on the film.
"If he continues to make intelligent choices - creative choices in terms of the roles that he takes on - then he really ought to have a terrific career. He has the goods. He has the skill as an actor."
Platt started his own entertainment career producing shows on Broadway before moving to Hollywood to run studios for Orion, TriStar and Universal.
Before making a trip to Edinburgh in a fortnight's time for the opening night of One Night Stand, which returns to the Pleasance after last year's sell-out Fringe run, the show's executive producer is in London about to start work on a new movie called Nine.
"It's a musical that's being directed by Rob Marshall, who did Chicago," enthuses Platt, whose latest film has a stellar cast that includes Daniel Day Lewis, Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz and Sophia Loren.
"It was inspired by Fellini's 8, and it's essentially the story of a filmmaker in the 1960s, so it's somewhat autobiographical to Fellini. It's about a director who is trying to figure out what to do next creatively as he tries to figure out all the different women in his life."
Asked what made him want to return to the world of theatre after producing a string of box office smashes, Platt shrugs before saying, "I was successful, and I was satisfied, but I was always looking over my shoulder to see what was going on in the theatre world. I was anxious some day to get back to it."
Enthusiastically, he continues, "I had initially started in the theatre years ago, and by circumstance my career took a left turn to the film business. I was the head of big studios in Hollywood prior to becoming an independent producer, but my first love as an individual has always been theatre. I just always loved live theatre as a kid, and I had a particular interest in musical theatre."
Through his company's theatrical division Platt produced the West End and Broadway hit musical Wicked, as well as Julia Roberts' Broadway debut in Three Days of Rain and the Matthew Bourne- directed dance piece Edward Scissorhands on both sides of the Atlantic.
Each have been massive successes, and the producer has high hopes that One Night Stand will be another crowd-puller when it returns to the Fringe for a 20-show run at the Pleasance-based Queen Dome theatre, on Bristo Square, from tomorrow.
A completely improvised one-hour-long musical - yes, completely improvised on the spot - it's a show that sees everything made up without any writing or planning. That includes the music, the lyrics, the characters, the choreography, the plot, the dialogue . . . the lot.
"One of the most exciting aspects of what I do - in any medium, whether it's the theatre or it's film - is discovering young talent," explains Platt.
"I've always had very good success working with first-time directors in the film business, and actors, giving them starring roles that have turned them into stars - like Reese Witherspoon and Legally Blonde, which, by the way, was directed by a first-time director."
"One Night Stand is a very unusual production in that it is improvised, and that is a fairly new world to me," he admits.
At the beginning of each show, the performers ask the audience to suggest three things - the made-up title of a musical that has never been performed before, a location where the musical will begin, and the made-up name of a song that will appear at some point in the musical.
Using these off-the-wall and random suggestions, the seven actors and pianist concoct an original musical - one that has never been performed before and will never be again.
"For an audience it's quite remarkable, and I've taken great joy in watching audiences marvel at this young troupe of actors," beams Platt. "We just finished a very successful sold-out run at the Hudson Theatre in Hollywood, and the audience just took great delight.
"As funny as these kids are - as appealing, and as good as the characters are - I think part of the fun for the audience is just to marvel at their ability to create a full musical in the moment."
One Night Stand, Pleasance Queen Dome, Bristo Square, tomorrow until August 24, daily 9.35pm (not 11, 18), GBP 7.50-GBP 10, 0131- 556 6550
(c) 2008 Evening News; Edinburgh (UK). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.